Art & About: Winter 2014–2015

Arts & Entertainment

by James Gaddy, 11/25/2014

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On December 12, after $91 million, nearly three years of renovations and a name change, the newly christened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopens on the Upper East Side in the renovated Carnegie mansion. It kicks off with 10 new exhibitions, including a show of more than 350 objects from the museum's permanent collection, ranging from old toast racks and Rolodexes to complex, contemporary 3-D printed objects. Other floors on the new property help tell the museum's history, such as the legacy of the Hewitt sisters, who founded the collection in 1897, while New York City–based artist Maira Kalman pairs up the museum's objects—a 1926 Lobmeyr glass, the restored gold pocket watch of President Abraham Lincoln and a 1966 Ingo Maurer bulb—with a few of her personal items and illustrations.

Two curious portraits emerge over the winter months. Through February 22 at the New-York Historical Society, Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz—perhaps best known for her picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken the day he was killed in the City—turns away from her celebrity-focused portraiture with Pilgrimage, a show of 70 photographs taken over a recent two-year stretch, and instead depicts living rooms, bedrooms and landscapes like Niagara Falls. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through March 15, Madame Cezanne groups together the second-most-painted model in Paul Cézanne's paintings: his wife, Hortense Fiquet. (His favorite animate subject was himself.) Over 20 years, the artist commonly thought of as the bridge from Monet to Picasso would paint 29 known portraits of his wife, and 24 of them are here—including Madame Cezanne in the Conservatory and Madame Cezanne in a Red Dress, from the Met's own collection.

Long before Chinatown became synonymous with fake Rolexes and Louis Vuitton bags, the knockoff had a long and uneasy history with high fashion. Faking It, a look at the history of authorized and unauthorized copying, illustrates the sometimes indistinguishable difference between the two. The exhibition, on display from December 2 through April 25 at FIT's Fashion and Textile History Gallery, opens with two identical suits from 1966, one from Coco Chanel and another a licensed copy, before continuing with dresses by Charles Frederick Worth (1903), Madeleine Vionnet (1925) and Christian Dior's famous 1947 collection, and moving through bags from Gucci, Chanel, Louboutin and others. Stick around to watch the video that outlines how to spot a counterfeit.

Opening at the Brooklyn Museum on February 20, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic will give an overview of the artist's 14-year career with 60 paintings and sculptures, a healthy sample of his works that place contemporary black subjects in poses that mimic those of European aristocrats in Old Masters paintings. He uses a process he calls "street casting," where he asks people to sit for portraits and reproduce a pose from any painting found in a book in his studio.

Two winter-long group shows are worth noting. MoMA PS1's Zero Tolerance, named for the 1990s policy in New York City that enforced a tough stance against crime, brings together more than 20 artists, from Belgian-based installation and performance artist Francis Alÿs to more conceptual artists such as Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono, for a wide-ranging exhibition about freedom of expression (through March 8). At the Museum of Modern Art, The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World surveys the state of painting through the work of Matt Connors, Josh Smith, Mary Weatherford and many others (December 14–April 5).
But the big groups shows begin in earnest as March approaches. On February 25, art-fair season in the City kicks off with the spectacle of the New Museum's triennial, Surround Audience, an assemblage of works from 51 artists and collectives organized by video-art celebrity Ryan Trecartin. From March 5 to 8, Armory Arts Week will be centered on Piers 92 and 94, where more than 200 galleries will exhibit their collections of 20th- and 21st-century art. This year there will be a special focus on artists from the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, organized by curator Omar Kholeif, and a commission from Lawrence Abu Hamdan.
The first week of March contains a wide-ranging list of options for culture vultures of all stripes and types: blue-chip seekers can search out the Art Dealer's Association of America's Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side; European-style works by emerging artists can be found at Volta NY on Pier 90, right near the main Armory show; and the open-plan Independent show has more of a studio-visit vibe down in Chelsea's Center 548. From March 13 to 21, Asia Week New York celebrates the Far East, with exhibitions up and down Fifth Avenue featuring everything from Korean folding screens to Chinese bronzes.

Briefly Noted
First Look 2015
Museum of the Moving Image
January 9–18
The Academy can wait. Kick off a new year of movies at the Queens institution with this four-year-old film festival, featuring nearly 40 internationally acclaimed films and videos that will all be making their New York City premieres. Highlights include opening-night selection Amour Fou, a moving look at the complex relationship between German poet Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel; films from Brazil (August Winds), Belgium (I for Iran) and Syria and Lebanon (Our Terrible Country); and seven artist-commissioned GIFs that will play before the features.

John Waters: Beverly Hills John
Marianne Boesky Gallery
January 9–February 14
For his third solo exhibition at the Chelsea gallery, the Hairspray and Pink Flamingos director will be presenting photographs, sculptures and video. The cult filmmaker's previous shows have drawn on his history in the film industry, incorporating in-jokes and vocabulary of movie culture but always filtered through his eccentric brand of campy humor. No matter what, it promises to be great fun.

Tyson Reeder: Tyson Reeder
Canada Gallery
January 9–February 15
This artist's brightly colored scenes have been compared to Francis Picabia's, thanks to their mix of surrealist and Dada influences. But there's a much more pronounced mischievous quality in Reeder's work, which ranges from playful landscapes on Miami Beach (made outdoors with quick-drying materials) to naively drawn portraits that seem inspired by Paul Klee.

Maurizio Cattelan: Cosa Nostra
Venus Over Manhattan

Through January 10

The Italian artist has so far honored his commitment to retire after his Guggenheim retrospective three years ago, so the pieces that were included in that show en masse—a kneeling Hitler sculpture, a print of the Hollywood sign, taxidermied pigeons—are here shown individually, in isolation.

Louise Bourgeois: Suspension
Cheim & Read
Through January 10
Any Louise Bourgeois exhibition is a good exhibition, as the old saying goes. This one is no different: focusing on the importance of hanging sculptures from the ceiling, the show collects a wide range of suspended pieces from the 1960s up to the rubberized limbs in Legs (1988) and the polished bronze of 1993's Arch of Hysteria.
Amalia Ulman
James Fuentes Gallery
January 11–February 8
Is she the ultimate social-media performance artist, one who posts pictures of her (or someone else's) plastic surgery on Instagram? Or someone who is poking fun at selfie culture, all while constructing elaborate installations of pregnancy clinics as a comment on the state of health care for women? Or both? Decide for yourself at the newest installment of this controversial artist's work.

Takashi Murakami: In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow
Gagosian Gallery (West 24th Street)
Through January 17
The famous Japanese pop (or "superflat") artist takes a darker turn in a show of flawlessly executed objects. It's a collection that he says he has been working on nonstop for the last seven years, and includes pieces made in response to his country's earthquake disaster in 2011.
The Untamed Landscape: Théodore Rousseau and the Path to Barbizon
The Morgan Library & Museum
Through January 18
A naturalistic approach to landscape painting is on view at the Morgan Library, where 70 works make up this exhibition of 19th-century French artist Théodore Rousseau. He is considered one of the leading practitioners of the Barbizon School, whose members drew on the Romantic movement in England and eventually upended the classical tradition in France. The show is a telling documentation of how Rousseau returned again and again to the forest of Fontainebleau, where he created pictures that imbued the Romantic ideals of nature with an air of luxuriant melancholy.

Tony Cragg: Walks of Life
Madison Square Park
Through February 8
The Scotland-born, Germany-based artist has created three elegant bronze sculptures that stand in three different sections of the park. At 18 feet high they're impossible to miss, but walk over to them and you'll see that the massive pieces are surprisingly light on their feet.

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery
Through March 14
Seen in New York City for the first time since they were created in 1977, this series of 20 collages and watercolors by African-American artist Romare Bearden is based on Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. Bearden's vividly illustrated version, however, connects the ancient Greek tale with contemporary African-American culture, and the pieces are done in a way that draws on the vibrant colors of Henri Matisse while also prefiguring the urgent social commentary of Kara Walker. In total, the exhibition includes roughly 50 works that reflect the artist's longstanding interest in classical themes.

related venues/(9)

  1. 1
    Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
    2 E. 91st St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10128
  2. 2
    The New-York Historical Society
    170 Central Park West
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10024
  3. 3
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10028
  1. 4
    Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
    Seventh Ave. at 27th St.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10001
  2. 5
    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    Brooklyn – Prospect Heights
    NY 11238
  3. 6
    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Ave.
    Queens – Long Island City
    NY 11101
  1. 7
    The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
    11 W. 53rd St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10019
  2. 8
    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    Manhattan – Lower East Side
    NY 10002
  3. 9
    Cheim & Read
    547 W 25th St
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10001

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